Battelle and Traverse City-based Core Energy Partner To Store CO2 Beneath Earth's Surface


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Core Energy is headquartered in Traverse City.

Photo Courtesy: Core Energy

Ten years ago, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) set a big goal. It wanted a scientific demonstration of injecting a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the rock deep below the earth’s surface.

Now, a Battelle-led team known as Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) has successfully stored one million metric tons of carbon dioxide as part of its large-scale demonstration project. The MRCSP demonstration is one of eight such DOE projects helping to develop and deploy carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), an advanced energy technology that can help support a secure, reliable, and competitive energy system in the U.S.

In the intervening decade since the project began, several environmental and economic benefits have been achieved. Battelle began the third phase of injection in 2013 and, in conjunction with Traverse City-based Core Energy, is monitoring, verifying and accounting for the CO2 being used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the depleted oil fields of Michigan’s Northern Reef Trend.

The practice of using carbon dioxide to recover oil uses a closed-loop process to access the fossil fuel that would otherwise be left behind, maximizing existing oil fields. One million cumulative metric tons of carbon dioxide stored is equivalent to removing 214,000 passenger vehicles for one year, or the amount stored by 1.2 million acres of forest in one year. As a result of this carbon dioxide injection, more than $70 million of economic benefit has been added to the local economy in jobs, goods and services, and taxes, based on the significant volume of oil that has been produced — oil that would otherwise have been left behind.

Additionally, there has been significant scientific knowledge gained. The project developed novel approaches for using carbon dioxide in fields that were in different stages of their production life-cycles, from initial flooding to late-stage. The MRCSP tested state-of-the-art techniques to track the carbon dioxide and quantify the amount that is retained in the formation after the oil is removed. The data can be used to further optimize carbon dioxide storage and energy production in other areas. MRCSP will continue to collect field operational data and deploy advanced monitoring technologies to characterize and simulate the carbon dioxide storage, retention, and enhanced oil recovery processes across the test locations.

“Battelle is proud to lead the MRCSP,” says Neeraj Gupta, principal investigator for the MRCSP. “This public-private partnership has allowed us to apply cutting edge science in practical real-world settings. This project is one of several that demonstrates that CCUS can be done safely, cost-effectively, and for the larger societal benefit.”

The MRCSP comprises a 10-state region that is home to more than 25 percent of the U.S. population and generates roughly $4.6 trillion in gross regional product. It produces almost 25 percent of all electricity generated in the country — more than half of that by burning coal. The MRCSP is one of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships in the United States established by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

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